April 1, 2018
I recently read a terrific blog by Dr. Michael Greger on the risks and benefits of calcium supplementation (and BTW I can't say enough good things about Dr Greger and his amazingly comprehensive website Nutritionfacts.org… click here for more info on him and all the other wonderful People I Like.)
And it really is funny how most people (including doctors) simply assume that since calcium is a natural element occurring in some of our food that supplementing with calcium is perfectly safe.
Something else that always strikes me as funny is how little thought most people (including doctors) give to the body's innate intelligence. I always say the body is more like an ecosystem than anything else, constantly trying to come to stasis no matter how far out of range a lot of its systems are operating. In his blog, Dr Greger gives an excellent example of body's natural tendancy to "go with the flow" in order to maintain balance when he shares research which proves three important issues:
1. The body's preferred source of calcium is food
2. and the body absorbs more or less of the calcium in food based on how much calcium we eat (how cool is that?!)
3. Conversely, if we eat too much calcium (especially in the form of supplements) the body absorbs less and excretes more (resulting in calcium deposits, kidney stones, an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, BUT NOT STRONGER BONES…SAY WHAT?!)
In other words, current evidence suggests that calcium supplementation and even calcium intake IN GENERAL isn’t something most people need to worry about…the body just seems to be able to figure things out on its own.
But now that we're on the subject of increased risk for heart attack and stroke, Dr Greger's blog not only points out that the research on the relationship between increased bone density and calcium supplements is flawed, he also calls attention to the fact that DIETARY calcium has NEVER been associated with either of these risks.
Don't get me wrong…I'm not minimizing the fact that breaking a hip is a HORRIBLE injury!!! But if you think about it, going to Walgreen's specifically to buy a calcium supplement is kind of like asking the pharmacist to sell you something which could easily make your life much worse in the long run than living with the repercussions of a fractured hip (and there’s LOTS of other more effective ways to prevent fractures of all kinds than taking calcium supplements but that’s a whole other SERIES of blogs, right?)
So what are the best sources of dietary calcium, you ask? (And I imagine many of you suddenly have visions of cheese, yogurt, ice cream, and milk dancing around in your heads!) But Dr Greger also agrees with my long-held belief that consuming calcium in the form of dairy products is NOT a good idea (for more info on that particular issue you really should read my blog Lifestyle Trumps Genetics Every Time.)
And now I can practically hear most of you thinking, "but all my life I've been told that yogurt and cheese" (etc) "are GOOD for my bones!"
Well at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I'm sorry to say that you've been played my friends…the reason why most of us, for most of our lives, have been told dairy products are good for bone health is because there's A LOT of money riding on us continuing to eat dairy products! The US National Dairy Board is, after all, a POWERFUL organization…since 1983 they’ve spent more than $1 billion on advertising alone (I'm not even going to mention political maneuverings…WHOOPS did I say that???)
So now that I'm sure I've got your attention (or maybe just confused the hell out of you?) I bet you're especially curious which calcium-containing foods you should be eating?
Why VEGETABLES of course!!!
And by now you really shouldn't be surprised about the vegetables because I bet you've heard me say about 100 times that every single major world health organization (including THE World Health Organization) agrees we should be eating somewhere between 9 and 13 servings of fresh whole produce (primarily vegetables) every single day just to maintain our health.
There are, in fact, a few calcium-containing vegetables and whole foods that, if added to the diet, could help in the battle against bone loss but in general simply eliminating dairy products and in some cases certain types of grains and replacing those foods with more vegetables is an easy AND CHEAP way to combat osteoporosis as well as improve your health in general.
And now that we're clear you should be boning up (HAHA) on veggies, I'm sure you're curious about the easiest way to add more veggies to your diet, right? Smoothies are always my top pick because they're a no-brainer: not only are they easy to make, they're very portable, plus seriously yummy too!!! And you're definitely in luck because my last DETOX SMOOTHIE class until the fall is only a couple of weeks away.
The truth is smoothies should be considered a major component of ANY whole-food plant-based diet because their benefits are almost too numerous to mention (but of course I can’t resist naming a few anyway LOL)
The bottom line is this class is terrific for anybody looking to be healthier in no time flat! So if you’re interested in learning how just a few minutes a day can add years to your life click here for more info and here to register (but no later than April 18th…SPACE IS LIMITED!)